Why water utility customers don't pay their bills promptly
journal contributionposted on 04.02.2013, 16:39 authored by Josses Mugabi, Sam KayagaSam Kayaga, Ian Smout
This paper examines the motivations of water utility customers when it comes to paying their water bills promptly. Through an exploratory study of five small urban water utilities in Uganda, we find evidence of a positive attitude towards regular and prompt paying of water bills among utility customers. However, what motivates a customer to settle an outstanding water bill seems to relate mainly to the overall quality of the service provided by the utility. Contrary to the usual explanation that low-incomes typical of small urban centers are responsible for low cost-recovery in those areas, we found evidence that supports the view that poor service quality (i.e. unreliable supply, poor customer relations, poor billing and collection systems, etc) is a key consideration for customer decision-making when it comes to paying water bills regularly and promptly. Implications for urban water utilities and their regulators in Uganda and elsewhere are discussed.
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